Is it OK to drink a scotch and water, one drink per night, with celiac disease?
Hi Mary Ellen. From a gluten-free standpoint, scotch is safe to drink for most of the celiac population. Even though whiskeys are commonly derived from barley, a gluten-containing grain, they are distilled alcohols, which means the gluten proteins have been removed to less than the proposed FDA standard of 20 parts per million.
There is always the potential that the distillation process doesn't completely remove the gluten. If you are ultra-sensitive, then it may be prudent to avoid scotch, but most celiacs tolerate distilled alcohols just fine.
Just like with all foods and beverages, it's important to check the ingredients statement to determine if any gluten-containing ingredients have been added, and to call the manufacturer should you have any concerns or uncertainty.
From a digestive health standpoint, for newly-diagnosed celiacs whose intestines may still be healing or other celiac patients with lingering gastrointestinal issues, sometimes alcohol can irritate the condition and be a cause for slower healing/recovery. If this applies to you, it's best to speak with your doctor so s/he can get a better understanding of what the issues are and provide a specific treatment protocol about whether it's necessary to reduce alcohol intake.
Rachel Begun, MS, RD